‘Nightwatch’ 1994 Movie Recap & Ending Explained: Things To Know Before ‘Demons Are Forever’

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the Game of Thrones superstar, didn’t start his career casually, huh? Ole Bornedal’s psychological thriller Nightwatch just got a sequel, and what better time to revisit the 1994 classic? The plot of Nightwatch is seamless, and the thrill it has managed to retain even after all these years since its release is something else. Better not lurk around in the morgue if you want to have a good career in academics, I guess. 

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Spoilers Ahead


What happens in the movie?

Martin, a law student in Copenhagen, gets a job in a creepy mortuary (all of them are creepy; don’t fight me on this). His life isn’t that bad, as his girlfriend Kalinka and he have a pretty healthy relationship going on. Martin gets a tour of the morgue and starts the job, thinking he wouldn’t have much to do except sit the night away. Martin’s best friend, Jens, starts playing a game with him, which eventually leads to him setting up Martin with a hooker, Joyce. What starts out as a silly game between bros soon leads to a much bigger mess when a psychotic killer is on the loose, killing prostitutes around the city. Martin sees things that he has no business seeing, and his job at the morgue turns out to be a nightmare for him. 

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What does Martin see in the morgue?

After he gets the formal tour of the morgue, Martin expects the nights to be pretty normal and decides to spend the time studying and jamming to music. He is curious when he sees cords hanging above the dead bodies in the morgue, but they’re there so that if one of the corpses comes back to life, they can decide to let the authorities know they’re back from the dead. He stares at the strange alert signal for a bit before starting his first round of patrolling around the premises. The room where embalmed bodies are kept creeps him out, but that’s less scary than walking inside the actual morgue, where there’s dead bodies lying all around him. He also got to know that there used to be a night guard who was a necrophile and got fired after he was caught in the act. A strange photograph of a young man in his chamber also seems freaky to Martin, but he manages to hold his nerves long enough to spend the first night in the morgue. 


Why did Jens challenge Martin?

Jens and Martin are longtime buddies, and so are their partners, Lotte and Kalinka. Jens brings up how he’s bored with his life and seeing the same person every day, and that he recently started having sex with a hooker. Martin, being not much more than an enabler bro, applauds Jens’ cheating, and Jens comes up with an idea of a game. He proposes that for two weeks, they’d give each other dares to complete, and whoever loses first has to marry their partner. If that’s not enough for you to get how big of a loser both of them are, the plot thickens even further. Lotte and Kalinka get harassed by a couple of buffoons, and Martin and Jens sit there idly instead of helping them. Jens sets up a date for Martin with Joyce as the two drunken losers get on with their lives. Jens has also lied to Joyce and used Martin’s name for himself, and when he tells Joyce about Martin, he switches Martin’s name with his own.

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Who is Detective Wormer?

Martin meets Detective Wormer, who arrives in the morgue to register a recently murdered woman. Wormer is awfully nice to Martin, who remembers seeing him on television. Wormer is investigating the serial killings where the killer is scalping the victims. He lets Martin see the victim’s body, which is odd and takes a toll on Martin’s mental health. Martin comes home to tell Kalinka about it, who’s constantly worried about how the job is making it hard for Martin to be okay. 


What happens when Joyce meets Martin?

Jens takes Martin to a restaurant, and Joyce walks in with specific instructions from Jens. Jens has planned a prank and informed the waiter that Martin and Joyce are newly-weds. Joyce goes one step further and goes down on Martin. The people in the restaurant get uncomfortable, and Jens pays the waiter off. Jens then takes over and asks Joyce to say all sorts of uncomfortable things, including that she loves him. After having his fun, he asks Joyce about her clients, and Joyce tells them about a person who pays her a lot to pretend to be dead while he does the business. Martin remembers the old nightguard, who was notorious for similar reasons, and Joyce tells them how her girlfriend got killed and scalped by the same person. 

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Does Martin get hallucinations?

Martin notices the last corpse missing from the table and finds bloody footprints around him. He follows the footprints to discover the body sitting against a wall, and he immediately calls the doctor to check on what just happened. The doctor comes and finds the corpse just where it’s supposed to be, and his existing annoyance at Martin just grows twofold. Wormer arrives out of nowhere and talks with Martin to explain how fantasy sometimes takes over what’s right in front of our eyes. 


What does Kalinka learn from Joyce ?

Martin’s experiences in the morgue are a major headache for Kalinka, and she decides to join him for a night during his shift. Both of them have a good time, and they decide to complete the patrol. Seeing the corpses in the morgue, Kalinka gets uncomfortable and seeks comfort from Martin. The cold room soon witnesses heat as Martin and Kalinka start to make out. They eventually make love inside the morgue room, but soon, their perfect love story takes a hit. Joyce comes to visit Kalinka in the theater the next day and tells her that she should get a handle on her boyfriend. Joyce is obviously talking about Jens, who pretends to be Martin. Kalinka comes home and has a meltdown when Martin doesn’t give her a clear answer. 

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Who is the actual killer?

Martin gets a lot of unwanted attention when he comes to work the next day, and everybody’s looking at him, and soon he finds out why. Wormer and the police are in the morgue, and the same corpse that went missing (Joyce’s dead girlfriend) has been turned upside down, and her legs have been spread apart. The police doubt that he’s followed in the footsteps of the old night guard, and the circumstantial evidence only proves that further. Martin’s semen is found in the corner of the room, and he hides what actually happened a night ago. Wormer warns Martin that the actual killer might’ve gotten too close to him through Joyce, and now he’s trying to frame him. Little did Martin know, the killer was actually breathing down his neck. A mysterious man with gloves visits Joyce, and her expressions tell us that it’s the same man who killed her girlfriend. He makes her inject drugs into her system and stabs her in cold blood. Kalinka goes to see Joyce to talk more about Martin, but she finds her dead body on the bed. Before she can call the police, she notices the killer’s hands and runs away, and Wormer comes out of the washroom. Wormer very gently places Martin’s semen samples on her body and writes his name on the pillow using her bloody hands. 


What happens when Martin finds out the truth about the killer?

Kalinka comes home to Jens and Lotte, and she is struggling to comprehend the horror she’s just witnessed. On the TV, they see Wormer naming a prime suspect in Joyce’s murder, a young law student. Inspector Rolf comes to find Martin, but Kalinka tries to convince him that Martin didn’t do anything wrong. Jens calls Martin to let him know the police are looking for him, and he keeps the phone on for Martin to listen to the conversation. Kalinka sneaks out of the house to go to the morgue and save Martin. Martin then calls the man who hired him and asks him if the old night guard was ever put in a mental health facility, but he gets to know that the whole thing was buried, and he is still out roaming free. Martin checks the employee records and finds the documents; it’s none other than Peter Wormer. Shortly after, Wormer shows up at the morgue and plays with Martin’s mind. Martin is manipulated into hitting Wormer with a baseball bat, and Kalinka walks in. Wormer claims that Martin has lost it and runs with Kalinka to hide in the room full of embalmed body parts. 

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Does Wormer kill Martin and Kalinka?

Martin finds Wormer holding Kalinka hostage, and the room is locked from the inside. He breaks in, but Wormer is already holding a scalpel to her neck. Inspector Rolf and Jens knock on the morgue’s door, and Wormer has already tied both Martin and Kalinka down to the table. Wormer claims that Martin has escaped with Kalinka, and all three of them go to check Martin’s office. Wormer hits Rolf’s head with a bat, kills him on the spot, and cuffs Jens to a pole. Seeing he has no other option, Jens cuts his thumb off to set himself free. He then takes Rolf’s gun to save his friends, and just when Wormer is about to scalp Kalinka, Jens shoots him down. The nightmare is over, but the three friends have been through the absolute worst to survive this night.

Nightwatch ends on a happy note as Martin and Jens marry Kalinka and Lotte, respectively. Jens jokingly regrets that they didn’t turn out too different from their parents, as they, too, are getting married early in life.

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There’s barely anything I can point out and criticize about Nightwatch, as the movie covers all the bases really well. From the grim and dingy morgue scenes to Wormer’s character progressing from a nightguard to a detective while maintaining his fetish for dead women, everything fits together just right. Understandably Bornedal’s most celebrated project, this is a must-watch before you jump into Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever. 


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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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